Archive for planets

Prequel Appreciation: Favorite Planet

Posted in Opinion, Questions with tags , , , , on 6 August 2015 by Megan

Day 6 of the Prequel Appreciation Week.

Well, I sort of said Coruscant yesterday, so I’ll try to come up with something else. I’ll confess that I have never liked Naboo. Yeah, never liked it. Tatooine isn’t a PT planet. Kamino or Geonosis? Nope, I’ve got it.

Utapau and Kamino are certainly unique among the offerings of the PT: Naboo is just Italy in space; Tatooine we’ve seen before, and Geonosis is just red Tatooine. But these two offered the kind of CGI-enhanced vistas we long for in science fiction–vistas you won’t see from earth. One planet is nothing but ocean and the other is nothing but savanna. And while I love the Kaminoans as a race far more than I like either of the sentient species on Utapau, the planet Utapau really attracts me.

Even as I sat in the theater for the midnight showing of Episode III the first time, my first thought on seeing the savage beauty of Utapau was, This is a science fiction planet. This epitomizes what an imaginary scifi world should be.

An Outer Rim world with water making up only .9% of the planet’s surface, Utapau has nine moons, an arid temperate climate, and a 27-hour day. This planet covered with cave networks and sinkholes made an attractive hiding place for the Separatist General Grevious–and in 2005, I know I wasn’t the only one reminded of the ongoing search for Osama bin Ladin in the caves of Afghanistan. I’m sure this wasn’t accidental on Lucas’ part, either, though I can’t give you a citation of him saying Obi-Wan’s triumph over Grevious was meant to inspire Americans in the midst of a decade-long wait for justice.

The Utapauan visuals are dazzling, and I’m never going to forgive Disney for denying me the chance to see it in the retro-3D that made Episode I a fresh thrill. I felt as giddy as on a roller coaster watching Boga dive over the edge of the cliff just on a normal cinema screen! How much more incredible would it have been? (sad sigh)

Speaking of Boga, where would any discussion of this awesome planet be if I didn’t mention the amazingness that is the varactyl?


Not only does this hero remind me of a floppy Newfoundland dog we had when I was a teen — which we lost to cancer the same year as Episode III, actually — but she helps show us a side of the Jedi that is under-represented: connection with all life. Obi-Wan says in E4 that the Force binds all living things together and Luke repeatedly uses this power to dispel predators from flesh-eating grubs to mutant cthons and one yeti-like creature in The New Rebellion. Obi-Wan’s preference for a live animal mount over a mechanical speeder recalls Tolkien’s emphasis on nature over industry, and the book and a deleted scene further emphasize that Obi-Wan chose Boga specifically because of the connection between them.

Also, the cooing and yipping is another Ben Burtt masterpiece and I’m kind of really super excited to get a varactyl mount of my own in The Old Republic!

So, yes, all that cool stuff combined makes Utapau my favorite planet of the prequels, though Kamino is a narrow contender because I like Kaminoans and they also have flying giant manta rays.

The Imperial Academy

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , , on 27 July 2011 by Megan

I have been wondering about the Imperial Academy lately. Is there a reference book that outlines what was offered at the Academy, the different branches of the Imperial Military, and the corresponding ranks and duties therein? — Michelle

Unfortunately, information about the Imperial Academy is rare and not very in depth. None of the references which I own discuss it at all. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia is supposed to have entries on the Imperial Academy, however; unfortunately its cost of $78 with the Amazon discount discourages me from buying it.

The planet Carida

The planet Carida

According to the Wookieepedia, there are various branches of the Academy, the one I am familiar with being at Carida. Corulag Academy, Coruscanti Pilot Institute, Prefsbelt Fleet Camp, Raithal Academy, and Vensenor Flight Academy being the others. One of their sources establishing these as locations, however, is The Imperial Sourcebook, a roleplaying game guide, and I myself have always taken RPG data with a grain of salt where canonicty is concerned.

More easily acceptable books, these being actual novels, describe the Academy at Carida, or at least discuss it in some level of detail. The Dark Forces trilogy, particularly Soldier for the Empire, include some of Dean Williams’ gorgeous paintings of the Academy. Dark Apprentice and Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson also touch on Carida, right before it is destroyed, but be warned that both books are dripping with bias. Han Solo, expelled from one academy, thinks about his experiences in A. C. Crispin’s The Hutt Gambit, but in flashbacks only. Michael A. Stackpole’s Isard’s Revenge also goes to the Academy, but I have not read that one yet and can’t say in what capacity.

The Darklighter comics offer some information, but this depends on how canonical you want to make graphic novels. My answer is “not at all, for the most part,” so that’s that. The Academy trained Stormtroopers on a variety of planets, as well as training for officers, probably much like any Earth military training program. Flight schools for TIE pilots took place on Destroyers and were supplementary to academy education.

So the short answer is, no, there is really very little information to be had on the procedures for training Stormtroopers and Imperial officers. And it’s just possible that with the amount of prejudice held against the Empire, the little that can be found is not necessarily accurate, using the Emperor’s personal evil to paint with a broad brush all the adherents to the system.

If you’d like to drop $80 and send me that Encyclopedia, though, I would so be all over finding out more for you ;)

Nar Shaddaa

Posted in Questions with tags , , , , on 1 June 2011 by Megan

What is Nar Shaddaa, who up with it, and why do all the video games use it? — Kristine

Nar Shaddaa

The Smuggler’s Moon: Dark Coruscant

Nar Shaddaa, also known as the Smuggler’s Moon and Vertical City, made its first appearance in the Dark Horse Comics series Dark Empire. In this series, originally released in six bi-monthly parts between December 1991 and October 1992, our heroes go up against the Emperor Reborn (Palpatine restored to life in a cloned body through the power of the Dark Side). When Luke is taken to the Deep Core world of Byss and warns Leia and Han not to follow him, they immediately find a way to do so by connecting with some of Han’s smuggler friends on the moon of Nar Shaddaa.

As Nal Hutta is the center of the Huttese Empire and Nar Shaddaa is the largest of Nal Hutta’s moons, it is infamous throughout the galaxy for illegal activity.  Like Coruscant, the moon is completely grown over in urban development, and this has earned it the nickname Little Coruscant; it has been compared to a dirty version of the lustrous coursica gem from which Coruscant gets its name. Its government is organized crime, and its major exports are contraband, technology, weapons, spice, and slaves.

As far as its use in the video games, it has or will have appearances in Star Wars: Dark Forces, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, The Force Unleashed, and The Old Republic. (It was mentioned only in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy). I haven’t played most of these, but guess one of the primary reasons for its popularity is its essentially lawless environment. Star Wars has been compared to “cowboys in space,” and apart from the wild, wild west shooting opportunities, the intricate dark city provides ample areas for gameplay.

Appearances of Nar Shaddaa (also used as sources):

  • The Hutt Gambit (A. C. Crispen)
  • Rebel Dawn (A. C. Crispen)
  • Dark Empire (1st appearance) (Tom Veitch)
  • Dark Forces: Rebel Agent (William C. Dietz)
  • Darksaber (Kevin J. Anderson)

Other Sources:

Star Wars: The Essential Atlas (Wallace & Fry)
A Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Second Edition (Bill Slavicsek)
The Wookieepedia: Nar Shaddaa